Tag Archive: Music



Children's book: The Unruly Orchestra: Learn about musical instruments and the symphonic orchestraChildren’s book: The Unruly Orchestra: Learn about musical instruments and the symphonic orchestra by Daphna Lustiger
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I voluntarily read to review this book.

Almost. That is the best thing I can say. I was excited, as a former music major, to see a picture book about the orchestra. But on the first page, I got disappointed. Two of the instruments named were not shown.

The text wasn’t rhythmic or as fun as it could be. And I think it still needs a good editor.

The pictures were fun and I wanted the story to be as fun.

Still, I would have read it to my children. I think I could have made it more fun with sounds of the instruments lined up to actually introduce each part. It could be a fun story, if cleaned up a bit, to a field trip to a concert or an educational segment about Peter and the Wolf, and possibly pulling out triangles and fun band percussion instruments. and a good old march around the classroom.

My deepest disappointment was the piano not named as it was being called a pipe organ (not usually in an orchestra, and no pipes).

Still, the book could have hope with a bit more clean up.

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Gone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life UnstrungGone: A Girl, a Violin, a Life Unstrung by Min Kym
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Passion.

That is what this book inspired in me. The music major (piano/voice) in me was jumping up and down as I read and listened to this book. By the way, I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley.

As I have often said, it is hard to rate an autobiography. It is their life, their truth. Even so, if you have practiced any instrument for any length of time you feel what the author feels about her violin. Min Kym has written a readable and relatable story. She describes her passion to play the violin in great detail. Stagefright doesn’t seem to enter her world as she is with her best friend at all times. Her life goes downhill when the violin disappears. I won’t give spoilers but that is enough. I have been without my piano (by the way, I have a love/hate with the piano) and worse found times when my voice didn’t work (bronchitis, etc.) and I know I was a mess!

I don’t want to rewrite her book or tell much more. I think musicians will appreciate this book the most but others will enjoy it, too.

The biggest thing that has happened to me since reading this is I want a violin to play with! I’m watching sales hoping. I know I might never get past Twinkle, Twinkle, something I did learn when I tried it a long time ago, but, I want to try!

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Just Jot it January is the brainchild of Linda G. Hill.

Memories

I can hear Babs singing it right now. I never saw Cats but in voice-class, this was a favorite. I loved that class. Because I got to take it eight times (four for voice and four for accompaniment–which I was allowed to still use for voice. I hated accompaniment. My eye-hand coordination is worse when stressed and being the one playing on stage nearly killed me. I loved singing. I was afraid at first but soon was able to use the butterflies to my benefit.

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After eight semesters I was able to take voice lessons from the teacher. I LOVED that! Soon I was able to sing with friends or alone at churches and other events. I loved hanging out with my musical friends, singing harmonies, playing musical games.  Ah! Memories!

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When I had to move from the area life took over and all that went by the way-side. If I had to sing solos now I would be a nervous wreck. But I miss it. I must find a way to add making music to my daily schedule.

I’m not good at being audience. I can’t sit still long enough. But in those days I got to be in a couple musicals, My Fair Lady – chorus and Oliver (Old Sally). I like singing in the chorus. I got to be the screechy high soprano because most couldn’t get the notes. I’d like to think I was okay. Mostly it was fun being a part of the production. Musicals are my favorite type of music. I like my music to come with stories. I like acting it all out. No talking parts for me. Makes me too nervous. I can remember song words, not spoken.

Into the Woods, Phantom of the Opera, Yentl, and Les Miserable are among my favorites. What are yours?

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Today Is MondayToday Is Monday by Eric Carle

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What can I say? It’s Eric Carle!

I picked this up at the library because I wanted art inspiration. I have always thought Mr. Carle’s work visually exciting. From the Hungry Caterpillar and Angry Ladybug, I was in awe of the way Eric could make his own prints and cut them into amazing pictures. The other side of that is his books are so much fun to read aloud to kids.

Having had a few accidents where crepe paper got wet and left an interesting stain behind. (Cleaning said stain wasn’t fun but I loved how the stain looked–though it didn’t belong there.) I realized when I read the first Eric Carle books to my kids that this was crepe paper stains cut and reformed into fantastic illustrations. I have learned since that he uses tissue paper to make his own prints. Makes me want to play with this method.

This book had pictures that looked less like crepe or tissue paper but the visuals didn’t disappoint. The story was rhythmically satisfying. And at the end of the book, the words are placed into a song. I think it would be a fun way to teach a little songwriting or other musical lessons. So with this book, we get so many things to learn.

I didn’t miss how inclusive the author was to minorities and the handicapped. All done in a sneaky way that most children or adults might not notice. But on each reading of this book, the onion can be peeled back to show children new lessons.

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Here are the starts, continuings, and finishings of the day. Kind of a jumbled mess. Let’s see if I can sort this out.

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This little guy is done. That string doesn’t belong to him.

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This little guy still needs arms, a face, and a scarf to keep him warm. (the 2 is for how many rows into the arm I am.

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Ribbing on the beginning of a purple hat. Haven’t decided what stitch for the body of the hat.

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Middle of the basket weave rust hat. I am loving working with my oval loom.

On a different note (C#?), I am reading The Shadow Land by Elizabeth Kostova. It is so intriguing that I had to keep my hands busy while listening. This was so inspiring that I had to run into my cold studio and play the piano for a while. I miss playing but that room is SO cold! Found out Kali either doesn’t like the piano (she doesn’t like noises, like cell phones, or computer, etc.) or it was too cold for her, too. The session was long enough to find that muscular memory could still get through a couple favorites. And my ear/eye heard a couple songs I had never played but felt the need, now, to learn to play them. Funny how time away from music makes me feel like I’m dying without it. Can’t wait for the room to get warmer so I can spend more time playing.

While leaving my studio I looked over at the trees. Yeah, the Christmas trees I couldn’t decide about before. Well, the lights don’t work anymore. So I have started the process of putting it all away. I will take the time to see if there is something I can do to fix the lights, otherwise, I will have to buy more by next year. This frees up the space for sofas. We really need sofas in that room for when family and friends come to visit. I know that within the month it will start getting warm enough to want to be in there more.

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Hello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra StreisandHello, Gorgeous: Becoming Barbra Streisand by William J. Mann

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was not my favorite biography of Barbra Streisand, but I couldn’t stop reading all the same. It was different than others I have read in that it helped me see more of her time between being a new singer and the finish of Funny Girl. Being the fangirl I am for Babs, I can never get enough of her. She still mystifies us all with her abilities and talents. Thank you, William J. Mann for delving into this unique life for the rest of us.

I picked this up for free from Kindle Unlimited. It is still KU free. It is only $2.99 for those who can afford it.

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The Art FacultyThe Art Faculty by P. J. Vye

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Disclaimer: I picked this e-book up from BookRooster dot com quite a while ago. Sorry that I am just now getting to it.

This story was unique. It started out with a recently orphaned teen. I liked her right away. Since it was so long ago that I was sent this book, I couldn’t figure out why I got it. I just kept reading. And even though it was written in the present tense, and in the first person, I got used to it. It wasn’t long into the story that I saw that the story was a science fiction. Space flight, other worlds. Yay! My kind of story!

Look, really, this got me as it was the right-brainers, the creative, musical, artistic, and dramatic save the day. How often does that happen in sci-fi? And the main character is a female and she is the hero though not in her own mind. Yes, there is a bit of romance, but it isn’t the guiding force. I hope I haven’t given spoilers. There is so much in this seemingly quiet story. Action takes over the end of the story. Meanwhile, get to know what the main character is going through. There was so much that I could relate to.

I hope P. J. Vye, the author will get this out for the general public. This would have been a favorite story for me as a teen. There are others who will love it, too!

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Light, Coming BackLight, Coming Back by Ann Wadsworth

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

For once, I was glad that the font was too small for me. It meant that I had to savor my moments with the story. This was like the fine wine, dark chocolate, aged cheese kind of book. I cherished every moment with it. It wasn’t the kind of book that left you tense or anxious in any way. In fact, I felt very little tension in the book. That goes against what I have been taught about writing.

The main character, Mrs. Mercedes Medina, is in her sixties. Her husband is 20 years her senior. I love the depth of relationship they have. The author, Ann Wadsworth, did a wonderful job creating the couple and each individual. They were wonderfully human characters with faults and follies of their own and a comfortable chemistry between them. But as life is changing and Patrick, the husband, starts failing in health, Mercedes, is trying to figure out her own life.

Since I am in my sixties, I found her life to be interesting. It is far from my own life. I felt like I moved in with this couple and lived a different life for a while. Isn’t that the best part about books? You can step into someone else’s life, their cities, their adventures, their music. Mrs. Medina’s life is rich while she is searching.

I have been thinking about what I would write about this book since I started it. There are no words I can come up with to do it justice. I wish everyone could read it. I don’t want to let it go. That’s how much I loved it. I registered the book on BookCrossing. BCID: 71813027955  Please read it if you get the chance.

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Out on the Panhandle (The Adventures of Decky and Charlie, #2)Out on the Panhandle by R.E. Bradshaw

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I love the Decky and Charlie stories. This couple has such a nice relationship. I love how the real Decky (R.E. Bradshaw) creates believable characters and stories. And the way the author presents family life. In these stories, Decky’s mom is bipolar. This is portrayed well as Decky tries to live an uncomplicated life with her new love.

In this book, Decky researches the history of Charlie’s family ranch. It is an education for all who read about the Comanche tribe and the troubles they had with the white invaders. I was glad I was reading this on Columbus Day. It made me feel I was celebrating the Native Ameican Day as it should be called.

Okay, I have to admit, though, I wasn’t completely thrilled with the book. The first part felt forced. The dialogue didn’t ring true, or something. Not sure I can pin it down. But after the story got off the ground, I was hooked. It wasn’t quite the thriller the last book was but it still had its share of adventure and action. Meanwhile, I learned a lot about the Comanche tribe and the Panhandle of Oklahoma.

Oh, and did I mention–horses? Yep. There are horses. That made me very happy. (My twelve-year-old self was galloping along with the characters.

I am looking forward to reading more by R.E. Bradshaw.

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Sing You HomeSing You Home by Jodi Picoult

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was special!

I was lucky enough to get both the audio CDs and the large print hardback from the library. I highly recommend reading it like that. As a music major, who thought seriously about moving into music therapy, I found myself relating to the main character, Zoe.

Not only was this well written, there were songs sung in the narration! The narrators’ voices were well done. And the a capella singing voice is angelic!

It was depressing to me to give the book back to the library. I loved it so much I know I will be buying the Kindle/Audible combo to enjoy again in the future.

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